Sexuality and Intellectualism In Classical Athens
Voulgaris, Leigh Ann
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Classical historian David M. Halperin believes that it is useless to ascribe current ideas and terms about human sexuality to past time periods inhabited by people who held no such notions themselves. While Halperin argues that "sexuality" is a social construction that we cannot apply to the.lives of the ancients, I do not fully agree with this assessment. In this way, I agree with Halperin's claim that the Greeks were not in possession of the same social constructs that we have today. However, just because the Greeks did not understand their sexual behavior and attitudes as "sexuality" per se, this does not mean that what that particular term describes did not exist. Likewise, the Greeks may not have had a contemporary concept of "homosexuality" as we do in the modem world, but the term is perfectly applicable to the behavior of the classical Athenians. It is my intention to be aware of the terminology I utilize throughout this paper, and I will continue to apply the words "sexuality" and "homosexuality" to the subjects I am describing because, by their very definitions, they are suitable terms to employ. Therefore, in the following chapters, I will prove how "sexuality" was a vital part of intellectual culture through discussions of hetairai, pederasty, and classical literature.